La nobleza indígena de Pátzcuaro en la época virreinal

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Author: López Sarrelangue, Delfina Esmeralda (1918-?)

Year: 1965

Publisher: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM

Place: Mexico City


289 pages with plates (some in color and folding), maps and index. Royal octavo (9 1/4" x 6") bound in original brick red cloth with black label and gilt lettering to spine and gilt pictorial to cover. Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas Series. First edition limited to 2000 copies.

This social and political history of the Tarascan Indian nobility in colonial Michoacán was written originally as a doctoral thesis at the National University of Mexico. The author did her research not only in the many printed works available but also in the numerous pertinent manuscripts of federal and state archives and libraries. She is one of many students now making use of the expanding microfilm collections located in the Centro de Documentación Histórica de Chapultepec. This center began operation on a small scale in 1951 and now contains hundreds of reels of important historical manuscripts still located in archives and libraries throughout central Mexico. Codices are also a part of her source material, especially the Códex Huapeán, which is reproduced between pages 98 and 99 and described in an appendix.

The author gives a brief survey of the origin of the Tarascan monarchy and the hierarchy of the nobility before and during the Conquest. The pattern of Tarascan society was so firmly set that the Spaniards were unable to make drastic changes in the social structure, although they did distribute lands among certain encomenderos and placed a tribute on the Tarascan villages. Each village, however, retained its own cacique and principales. The cacicazgo (the area over which a hereditary cacique ruled) had its original capital in Tzintzuntzan. But shortly after the Spaniards arrived, the capital was moved to Pátzcuaro, where the Indian nobility and principals retained some control over the macehuales until about 1800.

López Sarrelangue presents a carefully documented account of the privileges and obligations of the nobility and the continual conflicts with the Spanish authorities. She also describes the social and family life of the nobility class, and discusses the royal line, the descendants of the legitimate and illegitimate succession from the original monarch. One chapter of this work is devoted to a cataloguedictionary of all known members of the nobility class from 1518 to about 1800, listed by village, of which Pátzcuaro naturally has the largest number.

Obviously the main objective of this study is to explain, if possible, why the Tarascan nobility disappeared before the period of the Independence. Many causes are suggested, and the Spaniards were not entirely responsbile for this decline. Perhaps the main reason was psychological: the inability of the nobles to adapt fully to Spanish culture and their gradual sinking down into the macehuales.

The work contains a number of useful illustrations, some in color, an acceptable index, a short Tarascan vocabulary, and a long bibliography of both printed books and manuscripts. (HAHR 47 2)


A very good copy in near fine jacket.


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